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Fred Zahradnik

Windshield Mounting of GPS Legalized in California (But There's a Catch)

By September 30, 2008

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Over the weekend, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law Senate Bill 1567, the GPS Windshield Safety Act, which permits the mounting of portable GPS units in specific areas of vehicle windshields. Windshield mounting was previously illegal in California, and those who ignored the law were sometimes ticketed and fined $108 for "obstructed windshield" violations. California drivers take note: the new law does not take effect until January 1, 2009.

Kudos to the state legislature and the governor for lifting this ban and "decriminalizing" GPS. I've always contended that driving is safer with GPS.

The new law, however, has an odd clause that specifies the GPS must be mounted within "a 7-inch square area in the lower corner of the windshield farthest removed from the driver (the passenger side) or in a 5-inch square area in the lower corner of the windshield nearest to the driver (the lower left corner of the windshield)." That means the most common and useful front-and-center GPS windshield mount is still banned.

Also, many standard GPS power cords are not long enough to reach from a power port, all the way to the lower corners of a windshield (not to mention the increased wire clutter created by these corner mounting locations). Also, the passenger side mount is useless to the driver, and the lower left corner mount forces the driver to take eyes off the highway in an awkward way. I guess drivers can only hope that the police will ignore proper center mounts, or issue warnings, rather than tickets.

California was one of only two states (the other is New Jersey) banning windshield GPS mounting.

October 7, 2008 at 3:52 pm
(1) Bob says:

This is what happens when California politicians write a law. Oh, don’t hold you breath for a warning instead of a fine. The primary purpose of these weird laws is to generate revenue through increased fines.
I’ll continue to use my “bean bag”. Can I?

October 7, 2008 at 5:55 pm
(2) Don Pearson says:

You missed one….Minnesota bans windshield mounting too.

October 7, 2008 at 7:42 pm
(3) fzahradnik says:

Yes, dash “beanbags” will still be legal in CA. Thanks for the heads-up RE Minnesota.

October 7, 2008 at 10:32 pm
(4) Dave Ladely says:

I mounted my Garmin 880 in the extreme driver’s side of the dash, next to the A pillar, without interfering at all with viewing the road – only the hood/fender area.
And I was able to pass the cord from the cigarette lighter, under the dashe, along the left side of the dash, to the Garmin. I tucked the wire under the weatherstripping along the left side of the dash area. Very neat, no wires. Also, extensions do exist, such as from Radio Shack, where I bought a three way socket for the lighter.
So, what is the problem?

October 8, 2008 at 12:28 am
(5) BATS says:

My husband has vision in only his left eye but has no trouble passing the eye test for his license. He uses wide angle mirrors on both side mirrors for added safety.
The ONLY logical place for his GPS is directly below the rear-view mirror so he doesn’t have to take his eyes off the road to see it. We use a windshield mount out of necessity. That law is just plain stupid, and in his case, it;s probably a violation of the ADA.
Why don’t they go after the people with the items dangling from their rear-view mirror like fuzzy dice, the tassels from their schools, crucifixes, or the air fresheners? In NY, those would have gotten them a ticket.

October 8, 2008 at 9:01 am
(6) Ian says:

No such law has been passed here in the uk….yet. Over the years I have read and been told of the dangers of having anything that can distractthe driver or restrict clear vison through the windscreen, for example air freshners ect. The average size of a GPS sat-nav unit could be enough to blank out the drivers view of a pedestrian or cyclist and even if only for a split second could make the difference between ‘hitting or missing’.I have always located my GPS in the lower corner of the windscreen, the power cable being neatly tucked away round the steering column and dash. This has also makes it much easier to reach and operate if needed. I think it’s only common sense.

October 8, 2008 at 10:17 am
(7) Emilio Guede says:

I read this news with much interest, having returned from a trip to Los Angeles last week. I was aware of the windshield mount prohibition, so I sort of hand-held my GPS for the first couple of days–not too practical to use the GPS and certainly not the safest driving situation. Then I came up with an idea. I tried the suction mount directly on the dashboard display, on the clear plastic shield, covering the tachometer (not of much use with an automatic transmission.) Even though the surface is curved, to reduce glare, it’s totally smooth and worked perfectly. I now had fingertip access to the GPS screen through the steering wheel and a viewing position in line with the road ahead. I know the design of some dashboards will not allow this, but it worked for me and might be worth trying out if yours does.

January 8, 2009 at 10:16 pm
(8) MD says:

That’s ridiculous law. I’m glad I don’t live in those two states.

February 11, 2009 at 10:17 am
(9) Shannon says:

I thought the driver corner mount keeps the GPS too far away from me anyway, so I mounted it on the very front of my driver side window. It’s a Mazda5 so there is some odd space between the door frame and where the rearview mirror is. I bought a power cord extension and routed the wire under the car mat. Yes, when the door opens, the wire extends a bit. In the past, I have mounted the GPS to my sun visor by wearing a knee-high over the visor and tucking the GPS in. The GPS should stay on the inner side of the visor. The only problem with that mount is the angle of viewing may cause the visor to obstruct your view.

August 19, 2009 at 4:31 pm
(10) William says:

I called the Highway Patrol and got the same information about mounting my GPS in the lower left 5 inch square of the windshield. I asked him why the GPS couldn’t be mounted in the UPPER left corner of the windshield, and he had the audacity to tell me it was because of “visibility” problems. What…from airplanes and helicopters? No traffic is blocked in that location. I don’t have enough room to get my GPS in the lower 5 inch square because the windshield is too sloped. There really isn’t enough room to put the beanbag because my dash is too high and there isn’t enough flat area on top of it. What’s a guy to do…buy a SPECIAL mount?

August 21, 2009 at 7:12 am
(11) gps says:

Try Arkon.com for a bunch of alternative mounts, including vent and power port mounts – Fred at About GPS.

November 20, 2010 at 12:09 pm
(12) ben chan says:

To this day, what I learnt in journalism school in the late 70s applies to everything in life: If in doubt, don’t use it. Given the sorry state of the budget deficit, every department, state or local, is looking out to “take care” of your hard-earned dollar. Many officers adopt the you-are-welcome-to-explain-to-the-judge approach. You just won’t win. To avoid all the hassles, I simply put the gps with the bean bag on the front passenger side. You’ll get used to it.

By the way, California tends to over-legislate many aspects of our life. Remember there was this proposed legislation a few years ago to outlaw spanking three-year-olds? The author of the bill herself was not even married or had any child. We already have similar laws on the book. I encourage everyone to pay more attention to your beloved politicians and be ready to raise hell.

August 21, 2012 at 9:20 pm
(13) Billy Bean says:

Minnesota doesnt count as a state though..who lives in Minnesota anyways..?

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